When we left northern China on our great journey it took
quite a bit of time to decide what technology I wanted to bring with me. I had
just bought a new, very lightweight laptop just for the trip but once it came
to the crunch I wasn’t sure if I wanted to bring it and risk it getting damaged
So I made a decision to bring an iPod touch instead.
Let me just say that I am not just recommending an Apple
product or the standard apps therein (such as the mail and Safari apps which
will also be useful for travel). I am recommending the third party apps created
by companies who make their profits through other means such as in-app
Now, this might sound a bit strange as an iPod surely can’t
be worth more than a computer while travelling, can it? Well, funnily enough,
it can actually be better! Let me explain why….
-all apps listed here are completely free from the App Store at time of writing and some of them work offline without 3G, 4G
or wifi networks-
Booking.com speaks for
itself. It is quite simply an app connected to the booking.com website.
Booking.com is handy for getting a very cheap last minute reservation in almost
any city in the world. –Requires internet connection-
THIS. IS. PHOTOSHOP!
This app is outrageously fun and cool on the go. Edit pictures, make collages
and more all while waiting for your noodles at a noodle stand. It’s fast, it’s
very easy, it’s intuitive and best of all, it’s free!
Couchsurfing is a
relatively recent phenomenon where a person offers up their couch for new
friends to stay with them for free, with the expectation that the surfer will
also host other surfers when they finish travelling. Well the clever buffs over
at Couchsurfers finally released an official user friendly app earlier this
year. A must for any cheapskate traveler! –Requires internet connection-
The first of the
guides! Tripadvisor gives a user information about things to do, see and, of course,
eat in pretty much any city in the world with user reviews available for
thousands of restaurants and places to stay. It’s perfect for people who don’t
want to search for hours to find that Yak burger in the Himalayas or that North
Korean restaurant in Shanghai! -Requires an internet connection-
The standard photos app
is where all of your photos are stored on your iPod. It seems like a pretty
standard app which doesn’t require a mention until you start to uncover its
other uses. The photos app can double as a place to store maps you download
from the internet. Once again, this might seem simple enough but becomes
essential once you realize that city maps are not always widely available and
in a lot of cases the city maps offered at the train stations or hotels omit
very important features such as subway
Using this app on your
travels may seem obvious, but sometimes it just isn’t. We have met several
travelers who depended solely on their SLR cameras or digital compacts, only to
realize the memory was full, the battery died, it fell into the blue lagoon, got
splashed on by the kids etc. Well, with your IOS device you have a very capable
backup camera with 7mp images and 720p video…. Very very handy.
iBooks gets a high
ranking because it is a double whammy app. I recently read Dracula, Through the
Looking Glass, Burmese Days and many more books on my little iPod FOR FREE! I
don’t have to carry heavy books around and the screen is more than capable of
displaying readable (albeit small) backlit pages of books, saving weight big
The second whammy is that I can also email pdf files to my
iPod and read those on the device. Why is this so great you ask? Well I
recently uploaded the Lonely Planet books I need, including maps, ratings,
suggestions, etc. from all over the world onto my little iPod and it all works
offline! A real prize winner.
More than once I have
been in a country where more than one currency is accepted for a purchase and I
think to myself “I wonder in which currency my purchase will work out
cheaper….” Well this little beauty is ideal. Every time I go to the bank I have
the most recent exchange rates downloaded from the internet and I can see how
much I lose on exchanges.
It is so up to date that recently while exchanging $100 into
Cambodian riel I had more up to date rates than the bank teller and in the
exchange I actually gained $3 thanks to this app!
essential. With Skype I can video call my friends and family, voice conference
with several people at once, instant message friends from work and send large
files like recent pictures of my trip.
ALL. FOR. FREE.
Add a little Skype credit (similar to phone credit but all
done online) and you can call cell phones for less than the cell phone rates
actually cost. That means I can call my mom for less on Skype from the other
side of the world than if I called her from a cell phone while sitting next to
her! –Requires internet connection-
In keeping with the
travel app genre here, this has to be a clear winner. The biggest difference
between this app and the other Tripadvisor app is this app works completely
offline. Tripadvisor city guides is in a complete league of it’s own. Let me
lay it down for you: this app can…
1.Display recent maps at varying degrees of detail
3.Recommend restaurants, hotels, bars and nightclubs (all at
different price ranges)
4.Show recent reviews of everything
it has listed
5.Display other users’ walking tours, as well as TA
6.Allows you to make your own walking tours
And way more.
When in China Talia and I took a walking tour of the
forbidden city in Beijing and at the entrance we were approached by some tour
guides, looking for 30euros or so to give a tour. Well with this app we got a
self guided tour, with history and pictures of the sights, a map and
descriptions of everything around us all offline, in clear English and for
free. It really saved us a lot of money and time and it really doesn’t get any
better than that!
Well there you have it! We use all of these apps in some
shape or form during our travels and I would recommend all of them especially
the last few, which I would consider essential. Hope this post was helpful and